Specialist Sector

Charities & not for profit

The trustees of charitable and not-for-profit organisations face complex challenges and a frequently evolving regulatory environment.

Shipleys team of specialists regularly help charitable and not-for-profit organisations to:

Here’s more detail about our specialist accounting services for the charities & not for profit sector.

Setting up – establishing the right organisation structure

We work with all types of charities at all stages of their development. We can help set up and register a charity with the Charity Commission, including making sure its objectives meet the public benefit test guidelines. Some charities have found they need to refocus their activities to comply with these.

We also advise on the most appropriate structure for the organisation. For example, charities can register as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO). This option was introduced by the Charities Act 2006 to minimise trustees’ liabilities.

Charity Commission requirements

All CIOs must file an annual return and their Trustees Report and accounts to the Charity Commission each year. Other registered charities with gross annual income over £25,000 must provide an annual return and their Trustees Report and accounts. Smaller charities below this threshold are expected to complete an annual return to ensure their details are up to date. Charities have ten months from the end of their financial year to file the relevant documents with the Charity Commission.

Charities that file their documents late are listed as defaulters on the register.

Our team of specialists can help with any or all aspects of your annual return, whatever the size or type of your organisation to help you remain compliant.

Accounting, audit and assurance

There are different audit requirements for charities depending on their size and status. We can help you meet your obligations by establishing the right system to:

Our team also work with trustees and finance staff to maintain appropriate internal controls and help minimise the incidence of fraud. 


For most charities tax on income is not a major issue. Our specialist team can, however, give advice on the possible tax implications of a charity’s operations. This includes, for example, VAT issues arising from any trading activity such as online merchandise or products,  or the sale of light refreshments. We may advise your charity to set up a limited company through which to trade to maximise tax efficiency.

We also have a long track-record advising on all aspects of Gift Aid planning to ensure charities maximise the opportunity to reclaim the tax on donations. Investment income may be subject to taxation and our team can advise on recoverability options.

And we can also support organisations with our payroll services to ensure the correct payment of National Insurance Contributions.

Strategic planning

Our team like to take a proactive role in supporting charities through this particularly challenging economic period. Working with you, we can assess what has been achieved and what can be done to meet future goals. We also evaluate financial and operational risk and analyse the key drivers of performance improvement.

By using the most appropriate reporting systems and management information, we can advise on budget setting,  forecasts, and fundraising effectiveness. In doing so we can help you assess the use of resources and identify cost saving opportunities where appropriate.

Once strategic options have been identified we will work with your team to develop an action plan tailored to the specific needs of your organisation. We can also provide assistance in implementing the plan successfully.

Governance and trustees’ responsibilities

Shipleys specialist charities and not-for-profit sector team monitors the very latest Charity Commission, Companies Act and other regulatory requirements. This enables us to help trustees meet their obligations under the Charity Governance Code and advise on the correct procedures to be adopted for the effective running of both the financial and wider aspects of the charity. We work closely with boards of trustees to advise them on best practice regarding their role, structure, leadership, performance and development.

Co-ordinated advice

We often play an important role in co-ordinating teams of external professional advisers. We have close relationships with specialists in employment law, health and safety, data protection, IT and human resources, and can put you in touch with them as necessary.

Our clients

We work with trustees and finance staff from a broad range of charitable organisations, from well-known national charities and their local branch offices, to independent schools, charitable trusts, religious orders and Government training bodies.

Shipleys’ charities team

Our team of specialists at Shipleys is highly experienced in dealing with the complex challenges and changing legislative requirements facing the third sector. This enables us to deliver appropriate, independent advice underpinned by a thorough understanding of the current regulatory framework.

The team is led by Principal, Simon Robinson, who is a holder of the Diploma in Charity Accounting (DCHA) from the ICAEW and has specialist knowledge of the accounting, audit and governance issues facing charities.

We publish quarterly Charity Update bulletins for clients which highlight latest developments and regulatory issues in the sector. 

Can we help?

If you would like to discuss how we can support your organisation, please get in touch with one of our team of charity accounting specialists shown on this page.

“Shipleys are very helpful and provide us with charity intelligence about the charity landscape – they tell us about trends they see happening in their charity portfolio.”

Angela McConville
Chief Executive of Vital Regeneration

How Can We Help?

Want easier ways to manage your accounts? Got a tricky question about tax? Looking to grow your business? Get in touch and our team of experts will help.
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